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Queen Camilla Steps Out with Lesser-Known Working Royal amid King Charles' Cancer Diagnosis

The Duchess of Gloucester accompanied the Queen to an academic awards ceremony

<p> Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty</p> Queen Camilla and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, during an event to present the Queen

Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Camilla and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, during an event to present the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, at Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2024 in London.

Queen Camilla is carrying on with royal duty amid King Charles’ treatment for cancer with a lesser-known working member of the royal family by her side.

On Thursday, the Queen, 76, stepped out at a Buckingham Palace event with Birgitte, the Duchess of Gloucester — the wife of the late Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke of Gloucester, 79, is first cousins with Queen Elizabeth, making King Charles his first cousin once removed. Though he and Birgitte are lesser known on royal radars, they are both full-time working royals who reside at Kensington Palace and support the crown through various patronages, military affiliations and official engagements.

While Prince Richard was not photographed alongside his wife or the Queen during the ceremony, the Court Circular said he was present and helped host the reception afterward.

<p>Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty</p> Queen Camilla presents the Queen's Anniversary Prize to representatives from the University of the Arts London, during an event to present the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, at Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2024.

Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Camilla presents the Queen's Anniversary Prize to representatives from the University of the Arts London, during an event to present the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, at Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2024.

Related: King Charles Says He Has Been 'Reduced to Tears' Over Response to His Cancer Diagnosis in Vulnerable Moment

Queen Camilla and Birgitte, 77, stood side by side during the palace ceremony, where 22 schools were recognized. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the highest National Honour awarded to colleges and universities in the U.K., and are awarded every two years to schools whose work has been deemed to demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact in any field or discipline, and benefit society as well as the institutions.

“What would we do without you?” the Daily Mail reported that Queen Camilla said as she thanked representatives from the Institute of Cancer Research for their pioneering research on breast cancer.

<p>Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty</p> Queen Camilla presents the Queen's Anniversary Prize to representatives from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, during an event to present the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, at Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2024.

Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Camilla presents the Queen's Anniversary Prize to representatives from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, during an event to present the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, at Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2024.

The Gloucesters had prominent spots at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth in September 2022, the coronation of King Charles in May 2023 and the first Trooping the Colour of the new reign last summer. More recently, they attended church with King Charles and Queen Camilla at St. Mary Magdalene at Sandringham on New Year’s Eve.

Because King Charles has paused public engagements and Kate Middleton continues her recovery from abdominal surgery, it’s up to the other full-time working members of the royal family to carry the workload.

<p>CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty</p> Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Britain's Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester arrive for the "Together At Christmas" Carol Service" at Westminster Abbey in London on December 8, 2023.

CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Britain's Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester arrive for the "Together At Christmas" Carol Service" at Westminster Abbey in London on December 8, 2023.

Related: A Complete Timeline of King Charles' Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

“It is hard with Kate being ill as well, but he will step up,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE about Prince William. Another source said that the Prince of Wales, 41, is in regular contact with his father the King during this time.

On Wednesday afternoon, King Charles had his first in-person audience with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak since the monarch revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Despite the diagnosis, which was detected when he was being treated for a benign enlarged prostate, the sovereign has been continuing with his affairs of state — but largely behind the scenes.

The Duchess of Gloucester accompanied Camilla to present the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education for 2022-2024 at Buckingham Palace as King Charles, 75, continues to postpone public-facing duties while being treated for cancer.

Two weeks ago, the King and Sunak exchanged a phone call, which was more of a catch-up than the formal audience that the monarch and prime minister traditionally hold weekly. On Wednesday, that changed with the release of photographs and video footage of the two men meeting.

<p>JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty</p> Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles meet at Buckingham Palace on February 21, 2024.

JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles meet at Buckingham Palace on February 21, 2024.

Sunak said it was "wonderful" to see King Charles looking so well, to which the monarch quipped, "It's all done with mirrors."

The prime minister then said, "Well, we're all behind you. The country's behind you."

"Obviously, like everyone else, shocked and sad, and just all our thoughts are with him and his family. Thankfully, this has been caught early,” the prime minister told BBC Radio Five Live on Feb. 6, adding that he hopes the King "gets the treatment that he needs and makes a full recovery."

While King Charles has canceled most in-person duties and engagements, the monarch has been determined to be seen when possible during this time. As in recent weeks, he was joined by his wife the Queen for church services at St. Mary Magdalene in Norfolk on Sunday.

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images</p> King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend the Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on February 18, 2024.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend the Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on February 18, 2024.

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The King told Sunak on Wednesday, "I've had so many wonderful messages and cards. It's reduced me to tears most of the time."

It was Sunak who said soon after King Charles' diagnosis that the cancer had been "caught early." On Feb. 5, Buckingham Palace announced that the monarch was diagnosed with “a form of cancer” detected during the January procedure for benign prostate enlargement and had commenced treatment. A spokesman confirmed it is not prostate cancer.

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